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Pascagoula native finally tells the tale of amazing close encounter

For 45 years, Calvin Parker kept his mouth shut about the Pascagoula alien abduction that captured America’s attention. But now he’s ready to tell his story.

Parker, who claims he was abducted and examined by alien beings while fishing on the Pascagoula River with Charles Hickson in 1973, will hold a book signing event at Main Street Pascagoula on Oct. 11, 2018, on the 45th anniversary of the alleged abduction.  

“I never really told my story,” Parker said. “Nobody has ever talked to my family about it, never talked to my friends about it. I’ve always kept it quiet.”

A few months ago, however, Parker decided to share his story through a book titled Pascagoula – The Closest Encounter: My Story.

The idea came to him after attending a funeral. Visitors saw his name on the registry and began asking questions.

“They was coming up asking a lot of questions, wanting pictures,” he said. “We left the funeral because it was taking attention away from the family, but on the way home (me and my wife) talked about writing a book.”

As fate would have it, when they returned home a publisher had left a message about a book deal.  

“He told me, ‘It’s your legacy. People need to know. People want to know,’” Parker said. “He said the media always changes things. They make it a little spicier. I wanted to document this and put it in a book where it can’t be changed.”

Parker said he’s eager to kick off his book signings in Pascagoula because he owes the people of Jackson County an explanation of what happened.

“I don’t know if they believe it or not,” he said. “It don’t matter to me if you believe it or not (because) I know it happened.”

The book, should help readers make up their minds, he said.

“At least read the book and get the facts, like the polygraph test, the voice stress test, the eye witnesses, the hypnosis sessions,” he said.

UFO-MAINSTREET-232x300 Pascagoula native finally tells the tale of amazing close encounterThe book is available for purchase for $30 through Main Street Pascagoula by emailing mainstreetpascagoula@gmail.com. The book will be available for pick-up at the book signing event.

The book signing will be held at 618 Delmas Ave. from 5-8 p.m. on Oct. 11.

The book reveals all, Parker said.

“I remember everything about it,” Parker said, recounting that night in 1973.  

He and Hickson, who has since died, were fishing on private property on the east bank of the Pascagoula River.

“We had seen some blue, hazy lights, and I had figured that maybe the law was coming,” he said. “We stood up and turned around, and then a real bright light appeared about the time we stood up. It was really blinding for a minute.”

He believes the blinding light was the craft’s door opening.

“We saw three figures coming toward us,” Parker recounted. “You couldn’t make it out much because of the lights, but when they got closer, you could kinda make out that they weren’t human. They were more like robotic looking.”

Two of them approached Hickson, he said, and one grabbed Parker.  

“When they got a hold of me, it was like an injection,” he said. “It just took the fear and life right out of you. You couldn’t do nothing. You couldn’t talk; you couldn’t do anything but look. I couldn’t turn my head to see what was going on.”

Parker said once on board, he was put on an examination table at about a 45-degree angle.

That’s when something resembling a deck of cards with a silver bottom came out if the ceiling, he said.

“It came and hovered around my head just little bit (and) clicked four times,” he said. “I figure it was something close to an MRI.”

Then the “big ugly one” left the room, he said, and “the little feminine looking one” came inside to examine Parker.

“She pulled at my skin,” he said. “She put her fingers in my throat, nose and ears and just gave me an examination. She left the room, and the big ugly one came back in, the one I call the soldier. He came back and set us back at the river.”

Parker said he and Hickson sat on the riverbank and talked about what happened for a few minutes.

“I didn’t want to tell anyone,” he said. “But the next day, it was a media frenzy. It was national news and it still is.”

Parker believes social media has kept the abduction story alive and helped fan the flames of its popularity.

He’s been contacted by television stations and has a forthcoming radio broadcast, he said, and he wouldn’t be surprised if some movie deals come out of the book’s release.

“We’re just taking it slow and easy, not jumping into anything,” he said. “It’s been 45 years and I’ve kept my mouth shut. I kinda want to lift the cloud and lift the doubt. I just want to bring everybody together on the real facts of what happened.”

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Salvation Army Welcomes Majors, Opens Store in Pascagoula

With the new Family Store in Pascagoula and the new MS Gulf Coast Area Commanders arriving, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Salvation Army is solidifying its efforts to serve the community and make the area a better place for all.

The Salvation Army Family Store is located on Denny Ave in Pascagoula and proceeds will go to their social service efforts, such as running the local shelter, the pantry, emergency services and so on, according to Morgan Shiyou, Director of Public Relations for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Salvation Army. She added that this is important to their work as the local shelter is full every night and they don’t turn anyone away.

People can now donate to and purchase items from the store, and Shiyou said there have already been a lot of donations. They’ll have typical thrift store items such as clothing, furniture, household goods and knick knacks. They’ll also have a boutique section for name brand items, and Shiyou said it’s a great place for both back to school and holiday shopping.  

Along with the new store, the lower six counties of Southern Mississippi are now being served by Majors Bradley & Anita Caldwell, the new MS Gulf Coast Area Commanders. The husband and wife team arrived from Waco, Texas, a few weeks ago.

Since arriving, Bradley said they have already started on some repairs at the Pascagoula shelter, and they want to talk with Mayor Dane Maxwell to discuss some other ideas. Their future goals include focusing on changing people’s lives and not just the emergency services that the Salvation Army provides.

“We want to try to invest more in those programs and referrals that help people move on to their own situation and stability,” he said.

The Salvation Army in Pascagoula has church services every Sunday as well as other programs throughout the week.

Anita said that homeless prevention is a key goal of the Salvation Army’s efforts, and they provide assistance to help keep people from losing their homes.

“If we can keep you in your home, we have now prevented homelessness and that is huge,” she said, adding that they are thankful for the support of the local community in these efforts. She also emphasized the residential rehabilitation programs in New Orleans and Mobile.

For Shiyou, the success of the Salvation Army comes down to the generosity of those living in Jackson County: “We couldn’t do what we do without the people in the community helping us. It all really relies on our volunteers and the donations that we get.”

For more information, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast Salvation Army, visit their website

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Qu’est Que C’est: Picking up Pawpaws?

IMG_3965-300x225 Qu'est Que C'est: Picking up Pawpaws?

Picking Up Pawpaws & Eat Em!

In my world there are two kinds of pawpaws – the loveable grandfather that goes by that name (me included) and the ones you eat!  And yes, we have both in South Mississippi. As Andrew Moore writes in his book entitled Pawpaw: In Search of America’s Forgotten Fruit, this small native tree is a member of a more tropical family of plants that produce fleshy, sweet-tasting fruit. In most of the eastern U.S., the larger pawpaw, Asimina triloba, is common in wet bottomland forests. For the gulf coast, the smaller shrub-sized species known as Dwarf Pawpaw, Asimina parviflora, grows in well-drained woodlands. Pawpaw’s large leaves give these plants a tropical look and once you spot them, are easily seen again.

 

As with many native plants, pawpaw fell out of our consciousness as we have spent far less time roaming woodlands and foraging for things to eat. Air conditioning has become our excuse, and some say ruin, for not venturing outdoors. As for Dwarf Pawpaw, you can witness this earliest of blooming plants in late-February to early March. The small, brown, leathery flowers emerge before the larger leaves. Once pollinated by small flies and beetles (yes beetles do pollinate many plants), small, greenish-yellow “bananas” appear, in clusters of 2-4 fruit, growing to 2-3 inches in size. Rock hard until right before they ripen, the fruit hang on until mid-July to early August, but be diligent in checking for ripeness, as they can go from hard to ripe overnight.

For our smaller coastal Pawpaw, they are best enjoyed by cutting open the greenish skin and sucking the sweet, yellow flesh from the large brown seeds. Small amounts of flesh can also be scraped from the inside of the skin and used to flavor homemade ice cream or anything else you care to try. Pawpaw has a banana-like flavor and texture.

Apart from humans and other mammals that eat the fruit, this shrub is the host plant for the Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly. This small, black and white-striped beauty emerges in late spring from a small, squatty, striped caterpillar that eats by night. Look for them under dead leaves on the ground at the base of the plant during the day and munching on leaves after dark. So whether you have ever heard the lyrics “Picking up pawpaws and putting em in your basket”, or not, look for these attractive shrubs next time you venture out of the air conditioning.

Hope to see you in our great outdoors!!!

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Most Popular Classic Car Show in America Looking for Volunteers

More than 5,100 classic car enthusiasts from 44 states and Canada are pre-registered for the 22nd annual Cruisin’ the Coast, and Jackson County is revving up for a greater showing this year.

“Those are good numbers for us,” Cruisin’ the Coast Executive Director Woody Bailey said. “We’re on track with last year.” Moss Point, Pascagoula, Gautier and Ocean Springs are all bringing back their Cruisin’ events, with a few changes. “Pascagoula is going to be moving to Beach Park for their event, and we think that’s going to be a terrific venue for Cruisin’ the Coast,” Bailey said. “It’s so neat to see the other cities and the county come aboard,” he said. “Moss Point’s event is called Cruisin’ the River City, and it’s become very popular.” Gautier’s event is on Sept. 30, the first Sunday of Cruisin’ the Coast. That event, in its second year, is called Cruisin’ Through the Decades.

“We had a great turnout there last year, and we’re expecting a good turnout this year,” Bailey said of the Gautier event, which takes place on U.S. 90 adjacent to Belk. Pascagoula not only gets a new venue this year, but it also gets an expanded event.“Pascagoula is now going to a three-day stamping venue,” Bailey said. “That’s going to be even more impact for Jackson County.”

The Cruisin’ organization completes an economic impact study every five years. In 2016, it was estimated that the event generated a $26.5 million economic impact in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties. “A lot of people over here in Jackson County are spending money,” Bailey said.

While the overall Cruisin’ schedule will look very similar to last year’s event, “we’re working to improve it any way we can, and hoping for a good turnout, hopefully good weather,” Bailey said. “It should be a super event for this year,’ he said.

One of the event’s biggest needs is volunteers, Bailey said. Historically, Cruisin’ has relied on car clubs from state line to state line, he said, but the need for volunteers grows each year. “We’re launching a volunteer group called the Cruisin’ Krewe to help direct traffic, help with registration, and do computer work,” he said, noting volunteer information and applications are available online at www.cruisinthecoast.com.

“We’ll try to work with you and place you in a good spot,” he said. “The people of the Gulf Coast are tremendous ambassadors for this event. We want people to come out and support the event and enjoy the event. Bring your kids out, and help us with the event however you think you can.”

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You’ll Never Guess What This App Does and SRHS Has It!

Singing River Health System is the first on the Mississippi Coast to adopt new mobile technology that dramatically speeds up communication with first responders and subsequent hospital treatment for emergencies.

The health system has partnered with Pulsara, a communication platform that provides real-time, seamless communication among all providers from first responders to hospital ER staff, physicians and surgeons. During an emergency, clinicians can dynamically create a dedicated patient channel, build and alert their clinical teams, and communicate via messaging, audio clips, images, as well as phone or video calls through their mobile devices, all before the patient even arrives at the hospital.
Pulsara helps reduce time to treatment by sending patient information that normally can’t be relayed over the telephone or radio from the field to the hospital ahead of the patient’s arrival. David Higdon, Emergency Department Manager for Singing River Health System, is already impressed. “Pulsara puts all of us on the same page. For stroke or heart attack patients in the field, first responders can activate the app and give us critical information to get the ball rolling much faster than before. They can transfer EKG images to us in an encrypted format so we can see that info and begin directing treatment” he said.

Pulsara Stop STEMI Case Demonstration from Pulsara on Vimeo.

Higdon notes that the system has already made a tremendous difference: “Just recently one of our patients suffered a heart attack at home and called 911. Before the patient even arrived at Ocean Springs Hospital we had him registered and our Cath Lab team was activated and waiting for him. EMS bypassed the Emergency Room altogether and our Heart Team was able to begin a lifesaving intervention within just 8 minutes.” Patrick Phillips with Acadian Ambulance says that he and his team are excited to use the new technology. “We’re partnering well with Singing River in launching Pulsara. We can begin transmitting information and images from inside a patient’s home, and the more information we can give the hospital team, the sooner we can do that, the better it is for the patient.” Both Acadian and American Medical Response are using Pulsara technology in partnership with Singing River Health System.

To date, Pulsara is in use in 20 states and Australia and is rapidly growing. Since adoption of Pulsara, hospitals are seeing between a 20%-46% decrease in patient treatment times. For more information on Singing River Health System’s Emergency Services Team, see their website at
https://www.singingriverhealthsystem.com/services/emergency-care/. For information on Pulsara, see
https://www.pulsara.com/resources.

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Leadership Announced for the American Heart Association Jackson County Heart Walk

(Pascagoula, MS) – Recently, the Chairs and Executive Leadership Team were announced for the Jackson County Healthy For Good Heart Walk, an event to benefit the lifesaving work of the American Heart Association. The walk will take place on March 30, 2019 beginning at 7:30 a.m. at Beach Park (located at 600 Park Street) in Pascagoula, MS. Approximately 500 guests are expected to attend the walk. Co-chairing the Jackson County Heart Walk this year is Eric Washington, M.D. and Jeff Noblin, M.D. of Bienville Orthopaedic Specialists.

The Executive Leadership Committee includes Alan Sudduth (Chevron), Amy Brandenstein (Chevron), Doug Bates (Encore Rehabilitation), Jennifer Garlich (First Federal), Karen Cole (Bancorp South), Rick Spaulding (Ingalls Shipbuilding), Richard Lucas, Caroline Bishop (City of Pascagoula), Cedrick Hurd (Mississippi Power), Robert Johnson, M.D. (Singing River Health System), Myrtle Delgado, Susan Russell (Singing River Health System), David McCormick (Cumbest, Cumbest, Hunter & McCormick), and Mayor Jim Blevins. The event is sponsored by Ingalls Shipbuilding; Chevron; International Marine & Industrial Applicators; Singing River Health System; Craft and Technical Solutions; Compton Engineering Inc.; Absolute Protection; BancorpSouth; Bienville Orthopaedic Specialists; Brock Services; Cornerstone Group; Cumbest, Cumbest, Hunter & McCormick; Encore Rehabilitation Center; First Federal; Gulf Coast Pediatric Center; Gulf Sales and Supply; Lockard and Williams Insurance Services; MEITEC; MS Export RR; Navigator Credit Union; Southern Mississippi Heart Center, P.A.; Willis of Mississippi; and Zachry.

Combining fitness and philanthropy, this annual walk brings together walk teams, individual walkers, survivors of heart disease and stroke, and lifestyle change heroes who are all taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle while raising funds to combat heart disease and stroke, the No. 1 and No. 5 leading killers of American men and women. Proceeds go toward funding research, education and community programs targeting these issues. Kylar’s heart is why we walk… Kylar is the 2-year-old son of Tiffany and Keenan Woods. Keenan is a 1st Class Welder at Ingalls. Kylar has a rare congenital heart disease consisting of multiple left heart obstructive defects known as Shone’s Complex. During his second week of life he endured his first open heart surgery to repair a coarctation. His second surgery was at five months to repair his mitral valve. A few days before his 2nd birthday, his mitral valve was replaced. He began wearing oxygen at 3-months-old, but thankfully, he is now oxygen-free. Aside from a few obstacles he’s endured, Kylar’s parents report he has lived an amazing life. They attribute his current health to their “faith in God and to the advancements in medical procedures made possible by the American Heart Association.” You can help make a difference for people like Kylar by sponsoring the event, forming a Heart Walk team, or by joining us at the walk next spring. For more information on the event, please call (228) 604-5306 or visit www.jacksoncountyheartwalk.org.

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East Central baseball team heads to Cal Ripken World Series

HURLEY, Miss. – Thanks to the community’s support and the athletes’ hard work, the East Central 12-U baseball team is headed to the Cal Ripken World Series in Branson, Missouri this week. 

“When we really come together as a team, it’s gonna be hard to beat us,” Coach Todd Trochessett said of his talented team. 

“We’ve won sub-district, district and state and regionals,” he said. “Here we are going to the World Series, undefeated.”

Coach Stacey Smith said the kids have put in the time and deserve this honor. 

“They worked hard from day one this year,” he said. “Early on, it was 2-3 practices a week and 2-3 hours a night.”

The team will leave for Missouri on Aug. 2, and if they do well, they could be there until Aug. 12, the coaches said. 

Even though the game of baseball “has ups and downs,” Trochessett said, his team is always eager to get out on the field. 

“It’s all fun, and they love it,” he said. “Every ballgame they’re excited and having a good time. Why not, it’s a sport. It’s a game.”

Terry Crow, who has been a Mississippi district commissioner for five years and in the Vancleave community for 20 years, said he’s gotten to know this group of athletes really well. 

“I couldn’t be prouder of what I’ve seen,” he said. “These kids are all about hometown pride. It’s, ‘Go EC!’ and ‘Yes, sir!’ all the time.” 

The team is full of “awesome, fantastic people” who display “great sportsmanship,” Crow said. 

It’s not just the team that shows East Central pride, the coaches say. The feeling is mutual, and the community shows support right back to the kids. 

“The community is unbelievable,” Smith said. “They’ve been overwhelming with their support.” 

Facebook support has “blown up,” Trochessett said, and the community has been generous in donating funds to help pay for hotel rooms and transportation. 

The coaches, who both work at the Chevron refinery in Pascagoula, said their coworkers and the community at large ask about the team everywhere they go. 

“This community is a great place to be because they love these kids,” Trochessett said. 

Crow said it’s easy for a community to rally around a great group of kids. 

“If you’ve never came to a youth baseball game, come to East Central,” he said. “You’ll be hooked for life. These kids deserve all of our recognition.”

Crow says the team’s success is due in part to a group of coaches who “eat, live and breathe baseball” and teach the youth excellent fundamentals.

“All the coaching is pretty much done at practice,” Trochessett said.

Then it’s all on the team.  

“When it comes down to the game, their athleticism takes over,” he said. “They’ve all got their talents.”

The World Series games will be streamed online, Crow said, and they can be accessed through the Missouri branch of Cal Ripken baseball.

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Moss Point Tapped for Top Award

On July 24-27, the Mississippi Association for Career and Technical Education (MS ACTE) held its annual summer conference in Jackson, MS. During the conference, the Moss Point School District’s Robotics Engineering program was awarded the 2018 Mississippi Outstanding Program of the Year Award.

This award was created to recognize outstanding Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs throughout the state of Mississippi with well-qualified instructor(s) who exemplify the highest standards, work cooperatively with business leaders and local organizations, make extraordinary contributions to the field of career and technical education, and conduct activities that help promote and expand career and technical education programs.

“The City of Moss Point is blessed to be such a tight-knit community with some of the most talented students and teachers in Mississippi. I feel honored to receive this award on behalf of their hard work,” said Mr. Billy Carroll. Mr. Billy Carroll is the instructor of the Robotics Engineering program and coach of the Moss Point STEM Team.

The Robotics Engineering program is a two-year CTE program based at the Moss Point Career & Technical Education Center.  Students must complete the program by enrolling in the program, typically in the 10th grade, for two school years (Robotics Engineering I and Robotics Engineering II).   Program goals are to create student interest in STEM, give high school students an introduction to STEM-based careers, and better prepare students to pursue a STEM degree or career upon graduation from high school.

Dr. Durand Payton serves as the Director of the Moss Point Career and Technical Education Center and authored the initial $200,000.00 grant that funded the Moss Point Robotics Engineering program back in 2015.

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East Central Football Foundation Improves Facilities

IMG_1999 East Central Football Foundation Improves Facilities

The East Central Football Foundation has been working for the past three months to improve facilities for the football program. In that time, they’ve provided a new 800-pound capacity ice machine and 20 lockers for the program – ahead of their intended scheduled.

According to Lenn Wall, President of the East Central Football Foundation, the group’s mission is to ensure the coaches and student athletes have the resources they need to compete at the highest level.

Coming off of the success of last year’s football season, the group got together to form a foundation to ensure that the football program is an attractive coaching destination through facility improvements and coaching supplements.

Wall said they work in conjunction with the booster club and have seen support from the EC athletic director. With the addition of community support, things have taken off a little bit quicker than they anticipated. He credited this to the football team’s trip to the state championship last season.

“It’s the perfect time to do something like this,” he said. “People are very interested in getting involved and supporting the foundation financially too.”

To continue to raise funds, the group plans to host a couple of large fundraisers and pursue corporate sponsorships. Being a part of the Jackson County School District also allows the school to benefit from some matching programs, helping them do more with less.

“We’re not asking for people’s time so much as just for them to get the word out and to sign up as members and allow those funds to really go to the facilities and the coaches,” Wall said.

Since the group has marked off some initial items from Head Coach Seth Smith’s list, they are now looking to future projects. They have a few ideas in mind including possibly air conditioning the field house, getting new weights, or updating the football field fencing.

Wall said that the group is focused on improvements for the program in large part because of the coach and coaching staff. “I think everybody would agree we have a coach, a leader, who is a once in a lifetime find for a school,” he said. “We have a once in a lifetime opportunity, so we want to do our best to keep that.”

Wall said that the group is focused on football – rather than being an athletic foundation – so that they can concentrate their efforts on their largest revenue producing program. In turn, they hope this will allow for the football team to be even more successful, which will then benefit all other EC athletic programs long-term. 

The East Central Football Foundation is a nonprofit 501c3, so donations are tax deductible. You can find more information about them on their Facebook page.

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Beginning of school year often reveals child abuse, neglect

1 Beginning of school year often reveals child abuse, neglect

The end of summer and the start of a new school year is an exciting time for most children. But for some, the beginning of school could reveal a dark secret when signs of abuse and neglect these children have suffered over the summer are noticed by teachers, staff and other parents.

“Because children are subject to less adult supervision over the summer, it’s not uncommon for reports of suspected abuse and neglect to spike at the start of the school year,” said Frances Allsup, Executive Director for Jackson County CASA, Inc.

Many of the children who are confirmed as victims are removed from their homes and placed into foster care—often far from their friends, families and schools. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) volunteers from Jackson County CASA are specially screened and trained to speak up for abused and neglected children who, through no fault of their own, end up in the foster care system.

“Being uprooted from their homes and families is scary for these children. We at Jackson County CASA want to make sure that they do not get lost in the overburdened foster care system,” Frances Allsup said. “For that reason, we need more people in our community to speak up and make sure these children’s voices are heard. We want to help ensure that their stay in foster care is as short as possible and that they are placed in safe, loving homes quickly so they can begin to heal.”

There are 275 children in the child protection system in Jackson County, and only 120 CASA volunteers to advocate for their best interests.

“Too many children are forced to go through the chaos of moving through the child protection system alone,” Frances Allsup said. “Jackson County CASA needs more volunteers to step up and be a voice for children who desperately need them.”

Julia Noble has been a CASA volunteer for 4 years. As a CASA volunteer, she advocates for children’s needs in court and in the child welfare system. She helps them through their struggles in foster care. Julia’s number one goal is to help the children find a safe, loving family.

“We need more dedicated CASA volunteers like Julia to walk with children every step of the way and ensure that they are placed into safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible,” Allsup said.

This school year, become a CASA volunteer and help children in need find safe, permanent homes. For more information, visit www.jccasa.net or give us a call at 228-762-7370. The next training is scheduled to begin August 13, 2018. Contact us today to find out how you can become a voice for a child in foster care.

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